Thursday, December 7, 2023

Fall Boat Checklist


It is that time of the year. Some folks put their boats up for the season and many of us keep right on using our boats throughout the year. Either way, it is a good idea to get that maintenance done especially before it freezes. You still have a little time before our first freeze.

First thing on the list is to make sure your batteries are fully charged and the water level is normal. A fully-charged battery should not freeze. The summer sun and repetitive charging can “boil” the water out of the battery’s cell. This leads to an undercharged battery and loss of life. A battery that is not fully charged can also freeze which may destroy it.

The next item on my maintenance list is the lower unit. This is a good time to change the lower unit oil and look for any water in the oil. If you have water in the oil, you may have a bad seal. You definitely don’t want water in your lower unit when it gets cold enough to freeze as the chances are you will be incurring a large repair bill on the lower unit. This is also a good time to check the tilt/trim and hydraulic steering for proper fluid levels.

Periodically it is recommended that you remove your prop and see if any fishing line is wrapped around the shaft. Fishing line can damage lower unit seals, which can lead to water in the lower unit, which we just talked about. It is also a good idea to put some grease on the shaft before you put the prop back on.

Other items that should be looked at include the “bulb” on the fuel line. This is an inexpensive item that can prevent fuel from getting to your engine. All rubber hoses should be checked periodically as well.

A fuel stabilizer is cheap insurance in the gas tank, especially if you are going to let your boat sit for a while.

One item that is not mentioned much is the tightness of all hardware. It’s a good idea to check periodically. Start with the biggest hardware including those bolts holding the engine to the transom or jack plate. Over time these can loosen for a variety of reasons. The same applies to your trailer.

Check steering cables and lubricate as necessary. A previous boat of mine would get water in the cables, and on those really cold mornings they would not move when the water froze. That’s not a good thing when you are trying to get on the water.

Speaking of trailers, it is also a good time to check bearings and seals. Look for pitting in the bearings and replace seals regularly as the rubber can deteriorate with time.

These are just a few items to check. Other items such as bilge and livewell pumps and hoses including thru-hull fittings should be checked. Make sure all lights are functional on the boat and on the trailer.

My best advice is to do a little maintenance up front and hopefully you will prevent many of the breakdowns that can happen.


Lake Granbury continues to be about 2 feet low and falling slowly. We could use a lot more rain. Water temperatures are falling into the upper 70s and lake turnover is in process. Striped bass continue to be good to 10 pounds on live shad on the lower ends. Largemouth bass to 7 pounds are possible on spinner/crank baits on shallow humps and major lake points. Sandbass are fair to good from the Shores to Decordova subdivision on flats just off the channel ledges. Catfish continue to be best at night on cut bait near creek entrances. Crappie limits are being taken on submerged structure midlake and north of the railroad bridge.

Comanche Creek (Squaw Creek) reopened Oct. 1 and folks are catching limits of eater channel catfish on cut bait and prepared baits. Largemouth bass are also excellent on soft plastics and crankbaits on many areas. Comanche Creek is open Thursday through Sunday.

On other reservoirs, Whitney continues to boast of easy limits of striped bass on live shad fished on the lower ends. Some good topwater action for striped bass and largemouth bass near McCown Valley and Cedron Creek. Largemouth to 10 pounds have been reported near the Bluffs. | 254-396-4855